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playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition 
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Post playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
I need folks to give me some feedback on my newest game, StarCluster 3. This is a SF game - the 1st edition came out in 2002, and the 2nd in 2004. Please contact me via reply or PM if you are interested.

Thanks!

-clash

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Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:52 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
Based on feedback at other site, I should give a game description. SC3 is a far-future game, set about 2.5 millenia in the future in a star cluster some 300 LY from the solar system. Humanity came to the Cluster as refugees fleeing the destruction of the solar system and sterilization of everything within 60 ly of earth, They came in generational sub-light 'slow boats' - each carrying 10,000-30,000 people, seeds, frozen animal embryos, and such. The game is set some 500 years later, with humanity the dominant force in the Cluster.

The actual setting is up to the group, with tools for creating systems, worlds, aliens, uplifts, bioroids, robots, vehicles, ships, weapons, cultures, and most anything you might need. You can focus on what interests you.

The game is based around a company, created by the group - either players, GM, or players + GM as you choose. There are lots of options, from News Agency to Theatrical Troupe to Insurance Investigators. The group allocate resources and setus up what the company has available.

PC creation is via a non-random lifepath type system, with age being the moderator. Age is also the advancement mechanic - there are no equivalents to XP. PCs can be human, alien, human-sub-race, bioroid, uplift, or robot. Troupe play is a recommended option.

The system is a framework - extremely modular. Four resolution mechanics come with the game - percentile roll-under, resource based randomless, d6 additive pool, roll over with exploding 6s, and d10 roll over Risk die where you can declare a success without rolling for minimal quality, or chance failure to try for a better success. Choose whichever one you pprefer and use it. There will be other freely downloadable mechanics available as well. It uses abstract tactics if combat occurs, based around moving points between initiative, chance, and quality. Combat is not emphasized - the military sister game In Harm's Way: StarCluster is available for that - but it's not shirked either. Some companies have more dangerous lines of work than others.

I'm a traditional designer, so you shouldn't expect anything cutting edge or innovative.

-clash

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Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:01 am
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
What do the companies do? Is that completely open-ended or are there some guidelines for the kinds of goals companies could have, the worlds they could be doing their thing in?

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Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:53 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
walkerp wrote:
What do the companies do? Is that completely open-ended or are there some guidelines for the kinds of goals companies could have, the worlds they could be doing their thing in?


Mmm - companies are like sharks, Walker. Their goal is to grow big enough to swallow the world. Luckily, they are all doing it at the same time, so none does. Quite. What varies is the route they take to swallow the world. That's a group level decision, and entirely open-ended. As to the kinds of companies, there are 20 suggested types,and the available resources the company can purchase tend to be geared toward those types. As for the worlds, you create them as you like, using the tables provided.

-clash

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Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:58 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
It sounds like a very cool way to structure a campaign and bake the party concept right into the campaign. What is the time limit for the play test and how many sessions do you think would be ideal? I don't have the cycles right now, but in the fall it may be my turn to GM and I'm looking around for something new (Corvus Disorder + a group that has done a lot of genres already). Doing a playtest would also give me an anchor to keep me focused. And some sci-fi gaming could well be the ticket.

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Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:49 am
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
walkerp wrote:
It sounds like a very cool way to structure a campaign and bake the party concept right into the campaign.


That's the idea. :D

Also, if you design the company as a group, the players are telling you right there what they are interested in doing. In Alpha testing, my group went for creating a sort of Doctors Without Borders group called the Angels of Mercy, with the players playing doctors and security types, troupe style. They built a hospital ship, with a mobile clinic and mobile surgery, outfitted airtrucks as ambulances, gave the security types ground cars, etc. The doctors have minimal to no combat skills, and the security types little to no medical skill. That tells me as GM exactly what they are interested in doing. :D

Quote:
What is the time limit for the play test and how many sessions do you think would be ideal? I don't have the cycles right now, but in the fall it may be my turn to GM and I'm looking around for something new (Corvus Disorder + a group that has done a lot of genres already). Doing a playtest would also give me an anchor to keep me focused. And some sci-fi gaming could well be the ticket.


I would like to get playtesting feedback in by the end of September, for October release. If that's too short a time for you, I would still value any feedback you would have after reading it. I have found people who read and people who play give different types of feedback, and both are valuable. If you're interested, PM me with your email and I'll send the Beta document off to you.

-clash

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Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:26 am
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
This is interesting to me.

flyingmice wrote:
PC creation is via a non-random lifepath type system, with age being the moderator. Age is also the advancement mechanic - there are no equivalents to XP. PCs can be human, alien, human-sub-race, bioroid, uplift, or robot. Troupe play is a recommended option.

Can you explain a bit more about age being a moderator and the advancement mechanic?

What's a bioroid? Another name for an android or a cyborg or what?

flyingmice wrote:
The game is based around a company, created by the group - either players, GM, or players + GM as you choose. There are lots of options, from News Agency to Theatrical Troupe to Insurance Investigators. The group allocate resources and setus up what the company has available.

So you create a company up front. Are there mechanics for the company growing during play? Even an abstract mechanic would be suitable (I'm thinking of the system used in Inspectres for some reason as I imagine this).

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Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:53 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
Hi Orklord!

orklord wrote:
This is interesting to me.

Can you explain a bit more about age being a moderator and the advancement mechanic?


Sure! In chargen, the character - outside of schooling - gets 1 skill rank per year. So, after 5 years of professional work, the character has 5 more skill ranks. Beyond this, characters get 12 background skill ranks for their first 18 years to encompass family, primary, and secondary education, and a varying number of skill ranks for college and grad school depending on their degree program.

In play, each year - defined as an adventure/linked series of adventures/story arc, no matter how many sessions - the character gets 1 skill rank. Thus chargen and advancement in play are the same thing, one can substitute for the other, as chargen is really adventures you haven't played out.

This has been a hallmark of the StarCluster system since the beginning.

Quote:
What's a bioroid? Another name for an android or a cyborg or what?


A bioroid is a biological construct - any designed living creature, whether humanoid or not. An android is a humanoid bioroid. A cyborg is a combination of robot ("cyb" for cyber) and biological creature ("org" for organism) - so, not necessarily a designed construct.

Quote:
So you create a company up front. Are there mechanics for the company growing during play? Even an abstract mechanic would be suitable (I'm thinking of the system used in Inspectres for some reason as I imagine this).


Yes, and it is an abstract system. The company gains resources depending on three factors - Fame brought by the PCs, their Effort expended in accomplishing their work, and the company's Scale. This is up to the GM's judgement.

-clash

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Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:50 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
There is a lot of really neat stuff in here. I'm jumping around, reading bits and pieces when I have the time (it's 400+ pages), but mechanically and setting-wise there are so far many really cool ideas here. It is really built around long-term, campaign play which is something I miss these days, so it is probably speaking to me on that level as well. Also, the science fiction in it is really cool. I'm finding the section on the tech levels to be purely enjoyable sci-fi reading, practically like a good novel.

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Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:13 pm
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Post Re: playtesters needed for starCluster 3rd Edition
walkerp wrote:
There is a lot of really neat stuff in here. I'm jumping around, reading bits and pieces when I have the time (it's 400+ pages), but mechanically and setting-wise there are so far many really cool ideas here. It is really built around long-term, campaign play which is something I miss these days, so it is probably speaking to me on that level as well. Also, the science fiction in it is really cool. I'm finding the section on the tech levels to be purely enjoyable sci-fi reading, practically like a good novel.


Thanks, Walker! Glad you are enjoying it! :D

Sustainable campaigns are a goal for me in designing games, though I write so many games that I seldom get to actually sustain one. I think the company rules really encourage that, giving the group a societal position and function, a reason to be together, a source of resources, and a way to gain and recruit new members. Since it exists separately from the PC group, it provides continuity and linkage to society.

The setting is implied more than defined - as I grow older I more and more prefer pushing the actual definition of the setting to the group. They're the ones who will use it after all! What I do is provide structures for the group to hang their preferred setting on. This eases the tabula rasa paralysis effect without dictating anything specific. The old StarCluster setting from SC 1E and 2E had a very specific feel, and the random tables are designed to produce a setting with that same feel, without the details being the same.

As for the Tech Levels, Albert and I put a lot of thought into them, so that each level is a natural consequence of a fundamental breakthrough and consequent exploitation of that breakthrough. John did a marvellous job of writing up the consequences of each tech level on the societies of the Cluster, showing how the levels affect people directly.

-clash

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Designing: Lowell Was Right!
Last Release: IHW: Pigboats, Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone
I FLY BY NIGHT Blog: http://iflybynight.blogspot.com/


Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:29 am
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